Alternative To The Top Nikon and Canon Ultra-wides

June 26th, 2011

Peter Brandt posed a question last week about the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 FX wide angle lens. Peter’s question was, “wouldn’t the Tokina 16-28 be a better lens than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S?” Peter points out that the Tokina 16-28 is less than half the price of the Nikon 14-24mm and for interiors you really don’t need the range below 16mm that much. By the way, Peter’s question also applies to the Canon world if you compare the Tokina 16-28mm to the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II .

It’s worth noting that the Tokina 16-28mm is designed for full frame cameras. That’s what the FX designation stands for.

Ken Rockwell has reviewed the Tokina 16-28 and here’s a summary of Ken’s findings:

  1. The optical quality of the Tokina 16-28 is as good as the Nikon 14-24mm and the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II.
  2. Nikon owners considering a top end wide angle lens should also consider the Nikon 16-35mm f/4G ED VR II AF-S IF. Ken likes it better than the Nikon 14-24mm because you can use filters on the Nikon 16-35 and not on the Nikon 14-24.
  3. You can’t use filters on the Tokina 16-28 or the Nikon 14-24mm.
  4. The lens cap that comes on the Tokina is not effective, Ken recommends an alternative.
  5. The Tokina weighs less than the Nikon 14-24mm but more than the Canon 16-35mm.

Conclusion: What it boils down to is how important using filters on your ultra-wide lens is to you and how sensitive you are to lens weight. I think Peter is right, the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 FX is a pretty good alternative to the top Nikon and Canon ultra-wides.

Update 6/30/2011: As David points out below Ken Rockwell’s comparison is not super rigorous. In the comments below there are other reviews that agree with Ken’s review but it is not conclusive that the Tokina is as good as the Nikon 14-24mm or the Canon 16-35mm. We would welcome input from anyone that has had a chance to compare the Tokina 16-28mm to the top Nikon and Canon Ultra-wides.

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7 Responses to “Alternative To The Top Nikon and Canon Ultra-wides”

  • In my experience and personal opinion photograph first is skill, second glass, third camera body.

    Purchasing a brand camera body and then slapping some generic lens on it forgoes all the research and art of optics by the genuine creators who optimize these lenses to perform with their native bodies. If one was to decide what to invest in to save money, glass or camera body, go with a lesser body, but get good glass. Especially in real estate photography where high iso performance is usually not as imperative as say in documentary field. In the end, you’ll always get what you pay for.

  • p.s. there are some third party filter systems for these types of lenses such as Lee filter BF holder
    they’re generally targeted towards landscape photographers

  • Peter Brandt says: Bought the lens after reading the review links. I like it so far !
    The kicker was that the lens is as sharp as the Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8. With the spare cash I’ll buy a tele extender for my Nikkor 300mm f2.8.

  • I don’t pay much attention to Ken Rockwell. As far as I can tell, he is not a professional photographer and does not subject the equipment to rigorous testing.

  • @David- Rockwell is not the only one that claims that this lens is optically as good as the Nikon 14-24mm and the Canon 16-35mm. For example: and (only compares tokina to the canon 16-35mm).

    If you have a better comparison review I’d love to post it.

  • Seems to bear out Rockwell’s impression. Very impressive. Still, that is not all there is to quality. Color rendition, flare control, contrast, durability, quality control, etc., all have a bearing on quality as well. I wish PopPhoto had given the detailed results of the lens’s performance at various apertures

  • Here is another test/review: This one seems more in depth and technical. Sharpness fall off and more noticeable vignetting at the corners wide-open is hardly surprising, even for top quality lenses, especially zooms, so I would not hold that against it. Note the quality control issues though. However, I am not sure Canon’s quality control of its wideangle zooms is that great either.

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